China wants to be seen to be re-engaging with the world, which means government officials, business delegations, tourists and students are travelling again after three years of isolation.

The change in policy also reflects the Chinese government’s concern about the authenticity of some online degrees and diplomas. It has accused foreign universities of using the pandemic-era online study allowances as a cash cow.

“They use the epidemic as an excuse to continuously launch various online courses, recruit Chinese students aggressively by lowering admission requirements, graduation requirements, or shortening the duration of study, and claim that ‘you can easily obtain overseas diplomas without going abroad’,” Chinese digital newspaper, The Paper, said in an article published Monday.

The Beijing Youth Daily newspaper said the rule change would help eliminate what it dubbed “garbage study abroad”. This meant some Chinese students could obtain accredited qualifications without putting in the hard work.

“Some foreign institutions use distance education to facilitate the acquisition of diplomas as a selling point. Accreditation of such diplomas will hurt those studying abroad who are serious about studying, and it will also affect the credibility of the accreditation system,” the newspaper said in an article posted online Monday.

The move has alarmed students enrolled at Australian universities still in China. There were reports that airlines increased the number of flights to Australia from China overnight on Sunday because of the rule change.


“There is really not enough time, and the rent and air tickets have also increased overnight due to the new policy,” one student wrote on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Chinese students need to get their international degrees, which are still favoured by employers in China, authenticated by the Ministry of Education’s Chinese Services Centre for Scholarly Exchange.

While the attraction of studying in Australia diminished as bilateral relations hit a low-point in 2020, Chinese parents say improved diplomatic relations and more positive coverage of Australia in the Chinese media this year made it a more attractive destination again.